Category Archives: grief

Photo book done

Well – there was a sale I couldn’t beat and since I am struggling with Nathan’s death anniversary coming up anyway it seemed to make sense to go ahead and make the final photo book with Nathan.  I was going to try to share it here, but the service makes you sign up and also, it just seemed a little too private for a completely public forum like this. In the end..I didn’t put the worst of the pictures but put the ones where is he doing something interactive even if he looks bad.  I put in his obituary and the program from the funeral along with pictures of the girls from the day of his funeral.


More grief stuff

If you recall, I wrote about the physical manifestation of my grief a while back here.

I did have an “attack” a few days after Nathan’s funeral and then was relatively well for a while after that with occasional “episodes” that I though were medical and now think were caused by anxiety/grief.  It seems that instead of the passing of time helping, it is getting worse.  One of the things is my startle reflex which gets really overactive.  I had a bizarre jolt driving home from the airport where there was a slower car in the lane in front of us and I saw it and let out a big gasp and nearly startled Luke into an accident.  Really small things cause a huge overreaction at the base level, before I have control over them.  It is crappy.

Passing Nathan’s birthday and approaching his date of death has me at the verge of tears and experiencing some of these things.  It is really frustrating because I am planning some things where I have to be “on” and the thought that my mind/body may betray me is really depressing.  I do not like being weak and vulnerable.  More than that – it is just not my personality.  I guess you might say no one likes that, but it really is just not me.

Yes – I guess I am whining…forgive me because I know it could be worse


Sorry about the slow blogging…I have had some posts in my head so I am going to post them, some on delay.

First off – it is June.  I like June, but June contains Nathan’s birthday – so that is hard.  Facebook doesn’t help with the bombardment of 5th grade graduations and other friends with kids the same age having their birthdays.

The other day I finally tackled the rest of my medicine cabinet.  I had done the bare minimum of pulling the dangerous medicines out of there a few years ago and brought as many as I grabbed to the hazardous waste disposal center.

I wasn’t expecting how hard it was to throw away the rest of the stuff.  There was all the line care stuff, andmany bottles of SSKI (drops to protect his thyroid before nuclear meds scans).  There were also, to my surprise, many types of narcotics still hanging around, even a fentanyl patch which really shouldn’t be just sitting around.

I was really sad throwing away all the supplies and I had to bag up all the narcotics until I take my next trip to the hazardous waste place.

What it comes down to is that  I hate erasing pieces of proof that Nathan lived in our house, even when they are not happy things.   There was some bit of comfort in rustling around the medicine and finding a replacement cap to the end of his lines.  Over half of his life was spent with these items and they became a part of our life.  I wouldn’t want him to need them, but they remind me of him and his everyday presence.

Still – I did dispose of them – just through tears.  And I was depressed the rest of the day – I didn’t really realize it until Luke came up from work and I went to try to make dinner and found that emotionally I just couldn’t do it and I cried and he ran out and got us some food.

May 1-8, 2011

We had quite the busy week last week.

It started on May 1, the Sunday after Easter.  Our church remembers those who died the year before on that day.  Our friend MaryAnn has dubbed it “dead people Sunday”.  Ever since Nathan’s name was read at that service 3 years ago, I have not wanted to relive it.  So – we skip.  We invited MaryAnn who does not like D.P.S. either to join us for breakfast out – which was great.  That evening we had our usual Sunday night dinner with our friends (two other families).  We always enjoy that!

Monday held school and ballet after school.  Tuesday Lauren had violin and Julia started cello.  I also helped out in Julia’s class (which I do every Tuesday).  Wednesday afternoon Lauren had a mother’s day party at preschool and Wednesday night I had a 3.5 hour meeting for the Children’s Museum we are trying to build.  Thursday night I took Julia with me to choir rehearsal so she could rehearse her solo with the choir.  As it turned out the choir’s “oohing” was a little complex and we spent a lot of time on it.  It was hard for Julia to hear her part on the third verse with our “oohs”.  She had complete confidence and got up in front of everyone and sang by herself with the piano first.    She only got shy when the choir director started joking around about how much money she was going to make in the future and how he’d be her agent.  She couldn’t stand the attention and turned red and put her head down…poor thing.  When it came to singing though…no shyness at all!

Friday the girls had their dance dress rehearsal.  As usual the steaming and pinning of costumes took a while as did the hair. This year Julia needed a low bun (harder that a regular one because there is less hair to work with when it is low) and Lauren needed two french braids!  Those french braids took at least 20 minutes for me.  I was also a mother helper backstage,  I try to do that in the spring.  After the dress rehearsal we went out for pizza.

Saturday we had our first real warm day of the season and worked outside int he backyard most of the morning.  I took Lauren to a group violin lesson and then came home and started working on costumes and hair again for the recital.  After the recital we bought the girls some Dairy Queen and shopped for dinner.  We had our first dinner outside on the patio of the season.

On Sunday, Julia and I got up bright and early to go to church for the soundcheck.  She and I sung two services and then headed home.  I proceeded to read and relax outside for most of the afternoon and then Luke and I made a dinner of steak, salmon, potatoes and asparagus and ate again outside.

Julia did a great job singing.  Not perfect, of course, but really well for a nine year old who has not had much training.  I was a nervous wreck singing next to her.  In retrospect it may have been better if I had not sang that morning because I was trying to pay attention to her if she needed me to prompt her for anything and still sing my part, which we had just learned a few nights before and so didn’t really know well enough to look up much.  Of course, the camera angle had much of me on it, as nervous as I was, and I usually like to look a lot more relaxed and joyful when I sing, but it was all I could do to breathe.

She (and I and Luke) got many, many complements and it was wonderful to have her sitting next to me in the choir loft on Mother’s Day.  She proclaimed the whole experience as “fun”, which is the best outcome!

A little more grief has been rearing its head now that the week is over, with all its performances as such.  With Nathan’s birthday and date of death being in the summer – there is a certain apprehension.  I do see a overall curve, if you will, of grief and I can look back a bit now and see that the grief is not as intense, which is great.  This is NOT to say I am “over it” or have “moved on”, just dealing with it better overall. That also does not mean I don’t have bad days, or weeks, but that they are less frequent, and I am grateful for that.


I have been slowly working on our family pictures and making photo books (digitally) to preserve them.  I take a lot of pictures so each book is 1-3 months.  When Nathan got sick, our friend Lori, took it upon herself to scrapbook for us and made many books for us.  Not too long after Nathan’s death, I took over and have been working on them one by one.  I watch for sales and when there is a good one, I make the next book. I recently finished May 2007.

So – here I am, staring right at June, July and August 2007.  I have several dilemmas.  Which pictures do I include?  There are a few pictures, taken 10 days or so before Nathan’s death that I keep in a separate folder so as not to accidentally have them pop up on my screensaver.  I have only looked at them a few times.  I don’t even know if I posted them on here – they are terrible to see, not gruesome or anything, just the reality of death approaching and cancer taking over.  Some earlier in the month also show this, but at least he is still doing something and not just lying on the couch in pain.

As far as the funeral goes, there are no pictures really…I was given one of my dad holding Lauren at the reception.  I think I will include a scan of the funeral program.  That pretty much explains it.

And then, starting in August – the pictures go on, without Nathan.

Yeah, maybe mother’s day weekend is not the time to work on them….


Since December I have had several run-ins with the staff of Nathan’s oncology clinic. He spent 4 1/2 years under their care and that means I spent a whole lot of time with these doctors and nurses. I love to see them, but it is always emotional and I am left shaken a bit. It is hard to explain.

On Thursday afternoon I ran into one of Nathan’s oncologists, but not the main one. We would see this one when the other one wasn’t available. He said some very nice things about how everyone still remembers us and about missing seeing me at the clinic. Still, I left the encounter feeling shook up and a bit uneasy. Over these 3 1/2 years I have seen all the staff, except one, Nathan’s primary doctor. He has since retired due to Parkinson’s** and the last time I saw him was at Nathan’s funeral. He means so much to Luke and I. We feel so very blessed to have had him for Nathan’s doctor. The care he gave Nathan, and the way he dealt with Luke and I was superb. He made a terrible situation the best it could have been.

Friday, I ran out to Sam’s club at the last minute and guess who I saw? This wonderful doctor! Just one day after seeing the other one. He reached for a hug immediately and we talked for several minutes catching up. He told me that he had been hoping to run into me and that he thinks of us often. We talked about how crazy it was to both of us that it we just passed the 8 year mark of diagnosis. He had just started here in town a few days before Nathan was diagnosed and I think Nathan was his first diagnosis in his new city. We had a great talk and I didn’t even tear up once (which I always do) and I left the encounter, not shaken, but very happy. I did tear up afterwards, because I felt so thankful I saw him, and the timing of seeing him was just right.

** a note on the Parkinson’s. I wrote here about learning of his retirement and how sick it made me feel. On Friday, we talked about how he is doing and about how, at the time of his retirement, it was not what he wanted but looking back at many things which have happened since, the timing was right and he mentioned the mysterious ways God works.  I was so glad to hear and see that he is doing so well.  The disease is progressing quickly, but he seemed to be in as good a place as he could with it.


So I have mused a few times recently (too lazy to look up the posts right now) about if some of my physical problems are stress/grief related. Luke was the one who told me that perhaps it was and it had not really occurred to me before then.

However, I got “proof” today. I was planning a trip to two banks to consolidate what is left of Nathan’s memorial fund into one interest bearing account and also to the safe-deposit box. I went through some folders to select things that needed to go to the safe-deposit box and selected the title Nathan’s “slot” in the Columbarium. It was in a fancy envelop with a snap and so I opened it up just to check the contents and found his “Certificate of Cremation” in there. IT is an official document that was needed before interring his remains. I had forgotten we had to give it to the cemetery. There it was, spelled out in front of me, date of death, age of death, date of cremation. Ugh, ugh ugh!

So – I tucked it in my envelop and hurried off to take Lauren from school but my chest was tight, I was short of breath and dizzy. It stayed that way for quite a while. One of the bankers was trying to make small talk as he set up this account (memorial, he knew that much anyway) and I finally told him that this was not a cheerful errand and apologized that I really wasn’t in the mood for small talk.

Anyway – I just find it all so odd. I knew what I read, I had this physical reaction, I knew I was having this reaction based on what I had just been doing but I could not make it stop. I am just used to being in control of myself and I guess it is beyond my control.